Feb 8
Parenting Paragraph – When to give a child a phone

Q:  My 3rd grader wants a phone and I notice most of his friends have one but I think he’s too young.  What is the best age for a kid to get a smart phone?

A.  Great question! There are many differing opinions on this topic. Like most areas of parenting, only you know best the right time for your son to have a phone.  With that being said, it’s important to weigh the consequences of this decision.  The logical side of a child’s brain doesn’t develop until they are in their mid-twenties (this is the reality of neurological development and is not based on a child’s intelligence or perceived ability to be responsible), which means giving a highly emotional decision-maker access to the world comes with serious repercussions for him and you.  Most parents only consider the benefits – it’s fast entertainment, it can act as a babysitter, everyone has one, my kid will fit in socially, he can contact me in case of emergency, he needs it for school (more and teachers are using apps in class) or it helps him stay in touch with extended family.  The internet is an abyss of information and access; when you open up that world to your child is your decision.

Regardless of what you decide, purposeful parenting is key to long-term success with your son.  Purposeful parenting = communication, standards and consistency.  Purposeful parenting with your son about your decision to give or withhold a phone begins with communication.  Whatever you decide, explain your reasoning – not to gain agreement but to create common understanding.  Next, set standards and consequences for non-compliance.  For example, a standard for receiving a phone could be: he must be a certain age or maintain a certain grade point average; a standard for usage of a phone should you give him one could be: set time to turn in his phone each night or limit/deny access to social media/internet.  Finally there must be consistency in your message; this is often the hardest part for parents.  Integrity with your word is vital; only set standards where you are committed to follow through.  Purposeful parenting requires attention and effort.  In the end the determining factor on the best age for your son to get a smart phone should primarily be based on how you want to use your energy – saying no or the constant monitoring of his device usage.

laughingLaura Treonze, serves as Chief Life Strategist with LMT Consulting, which helps executives and teams create massive success through self-awareness. Her life-changing approach has transformed individuals and families and has redefined the way non-profits and corporations “do” business.